During today’s press briefing, the media devoted most of its attention to the skin cancer tumor First Lady Laura Bush recently had removed. Reporters were critical of Mrs. Bush’s decision to not publicize her condition initially, asking Press Secretary Tony Snow why she “didn’t feel any obligation as a person of public status to talk about this” and arguing that she should now become an advocate for preventative care against skin cancer.
In fact, the White House press corps asked more questions about Laura Bush’s skin condition than they did about any other issue:
22: Number of questions on Laura Bush’s skin cancer.
18: Number of questions on Iraq.
3: Number of questions on Iran.
1: Number of questions on North Korea.
Highlights of reporters’ questions from the briefing:
Q Tony, can you tell us about Mrs. Bush’s skin cancer? How is she doing? And how was the decision reached not to disclose this publicly until questions were asked?
Q She is often an advocate for women’s health in the area of breast cancer or heart disease, advocating screenings, preventative care. Is she likely to talk about skin cancer in that way?
Q And she didn’t feel any obligation as a person of public status to talk about this?
Q Going back to Mrs. Bush, it seems that there are two things going on, in terms of not informing the public and the press. Which was it, was it that it was medical privacy that was the reason for not informing us, or was it that it was no big deal?
Mrs. Bush’s decision not to reveal the details of her skin condition is hardly a matter worthy of intense public scrutiny, especially when there are so many issues of real significance that the media could be covering.